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When leaders ask questions: Can humility premiums buffer the effects of competence penalties?

Cojuharenco, Irina and Karelaia, Natalia (2020) When leaders ask questions: Can humility premiums buffer the effects of competence penalties? Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 156. pp. 113-134.

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We advance a questions-as-information approach to the study of the consequences of asking questions for leader effectiveness. We contend that questions go beyond their instrumental purpose to convey information about the asker’s lack of competence and high humility, and thus inform possible doubts about the leader, producing competence penalties and humility premiums. In Study 1, we find that most practitioners do not ask questions at every opportunity and many do not endorse questions as a way of looking competent, especially if competence is in doubt. In Studies 2–5, we shed light on both the competence and humility repercussions of questioning. We find that competence penalties occur when leader competence is in doubt ex ante, but humility premiums are pervasive. Humility premiums affect leader helping and trust positively and buffer the negative effects of competence penalties. We discuss the implications of our findings for leadership, communication, and decision making in organizations.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
Karelaia, Natalia
Date : January 2020
Funders : INSEAD Alumni Fund
DOI : 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.12.001
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Uncontrolled Keywords : Asking questions; Questions as information; Leader competence; Leader humility; Communication; Social perception; Practitioners' beliefs
Depositing User : James Marshall
Date Deposited : 23 Jan 2020 16:08
Last Modified : 24 Apr 2020 13:35

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